Full Media Access Granted For California Marriage Equality Summit

Two weeks ago a controversy erupted when activist Robin Tyler leaked word that next week’s marriage equality summit organized by Equality California would bar press and bloggers from a portion of the proceedings. Many blogs (including this one) expressed disappointment with that decision, although some blogs accused us publicly of having gotten the story wrong. (Which we didn’t.) Today Rex Wockner reports that the summit will now open all proceedings to the press.

The California Equality Summit, a large gay activist powwow being held in Los Angeles Jan. 24, has abandoned a plan to block media access to portions of the gathering. The meeting of more than 250 California GLBT activists at the Los Angeles Convention Center will focus on strategizing and organizing to win back same-sex marriage in California.

Internal meeting minutes and e-mails, given to reporters by a disgruntled co-organizer, had made clear that the 53-member organizing committee had decided to prevent reporters from attending at least some portions of the summit. “Media will have access to cover only a portion of the summit,” stated the minutes of a Dec. 18 planning-committee meeting. “Co-chairs will determine which section that is.” The policy was reiterated as late as Dec. 29, when summit coordinator Anne Marks of Equality California informed the planning committee that the summit’s co-chairs “have decided not to revisit the committee’s decision on media policy.”

But after the documents became public and news stories were published on Jan. 5 and Jan. 7, organizers apparently opted to reconsider the decision. A note published Jan. 13 on Equality California’s Web site stated simply, “There will be press access at the entire summit for pre-registered members of the media.” The planned media limits had been controversial because the people who ran the failed campaign against Proposition 8 have been widely criticized for their alleged insularity during the campaign, in which Equality California had the lead role.

Prop 8, passed narrowly by voters on Nov. 4, 2008, amended the California Constitution to wipe out same-sex marriage, which had been legal since June 16, 2008, following a state Supreme Court ruling which found the state’s opposite-sex definition of marriage unconstitutional. Prop 8 itself is now under attack before the Supreme Court as allegedly unconstitutional for a variety of reasons. A ruling is expected in June.